01 Called - 3:03 - composed 2008, this recording March 12, 2013 - composed & performed by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
In 2007 or thereabouts I inherited the ±50 yr old Wurlitzer upright piano that I'd grown up w/. Having played piano off & on (mostly off) for the preceding 47 yrs I was delighted to actually have access to one at home as an adult to play & experiment w/. One of the most conventional things I did w/ it was try to develop my technique. Some of the exercises I thought of were then pieced together to form this piece called "Called". Alas, I never did practice it enuf for my technique to improve much. This recording was made on the 21st day of a juice fast. One of the only slightly remarkable techniques used is that of playing an 8 note chord & then releasing the fingers from only 4 of the keys to leave the other 4 still held. This enables the harmony to change w/o making any fresh attacks.
02 Do What Ditty? aka Do What? Ditty - 2:08 - this recording March 12, 2013 - composed & performed by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
This, like "Called", is another composition pieced together by trying out a few things while playing & then creating a simple sequence for them. It was developed a few yrs later than "Called", I don't remember exactly when. It's both deliberately 'motley' in its evocations & deliberately ending on something that there's essentially been no conventional harmonic build to. I'm a mostly sloppy pianist so this is a sortof 'party piece' that I can play that has easy diatonic runs in it that might seem flashy enuf to make it look like I'm better than I am. Again, as w/ "Called", this was recorded on the 21st day of a juice fast.
03 Pi (variation 1) (for 88 keys) - 8:34 - composed, recorded & performed: January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
This & the following 11 other pieces are all parts of a piece called "Pi(ano Fort)e". I'm somewhat proud of "Pi(ano Fort)e" b/c I developed a notation technique for it that may be original to me (at least I've never seen it before): a one-to-one mapping from the score to the keyboard. "Pi(ano Fort)e" consists of 6 sections: "Pi (variation 1)", "Pi (variation 2)", "Pi (variation 3)", "e (variation 1)", "e (variation 2)", & "e (variation 3)". Tracks 03-08 are my solo performances of the 88 key version.
Pi & e are both "constants", ie: special numbers with unusual properties that can be used in multiple contexts, & are also what's known as "transcendental irrational numbers", ie: numbers that can't be expressed as either ratios or even as roots of numbers that can be expressed as ratios. I find them fascinating.
The Piano's full name is "Piano Forte", "Soft Loud", a name that's expressive of its dynamic range. This range is less restrictive than that of many other instruments. EG: the harpsichord is a quiet instrument played indoors & bagpipes are a loud instrument played outdoors. The name is usually shortened to just "Piano". State names are abbreviated by taking their beginning & their end & removing the middle. EG: Florida is reduced to "Fla". I've applied the same technique to Piano Forte by making it "Pie" or "Pi" + "e".
I've then created 2 "Transcendental Irrational Pie(ce)s" by making a one-to-one correspondence between both Pi & e, each to 88 places, & the 88 keys of the conventional Piano (some pianos have more keys, Bosendorfers have 97 & 92 key models, eg, & most electronic keyboards have fewer keys, 61, eg). The name "Transcendental Irrational" is meant to be evocative of "Mystical" & cd be thought to, therefore, also be evocative of, eg, the Rosicrucian period of Erik Satie's early music.
As with most of my (M)Usic, these Pie(ce)s are meant to impose unusual restrictions that will provide a challenge for the player at the same time as 'allowing' great 'freedom'. The intent is to encourage the player to do things that they ordinarily wouldn't. In these Pie(ce)s an 'irrational' harmonic system is generated that has nothing to do with the typical harmonic systems that're based on the pitches' actual ratio relations to each other.
EG: according to the simple rules of playing "Variation 1" of these, all the like numbers can be played together at the same time or in any combination. Hence, in Pi, the "1"s are: A#0, C1, A#3, C#4, A#4, & F6 - while in e they're: B0, D#1, C3, & A7. In "Variations 2 & 3" this harmonic range is expanded somewhat - but still in a way that's deliberately 'irrelevant' to the usual 'rational' considerations.
The player is 'free' to choose which of the numbered notes will be played + their dynamics, rhythm, pedaling, etc, but not the order in which they're played. The player is also encouraged to try to play the Pie(ce)s differently every time.
EG: the player might try to play a realization in which they only play the white keys, hence making this realization 'diatonic'. The player might decide, in "e, Variation 1", to begin on the "1" that's C3 & end on the '8" that's C2 to imply a tonic of "C". Furthermore, the player might decide to alternate between single notes & chords (perhaps playing a rhythm of: single note, chord, rest, single note, chord, rest, etc..) & to use the lowest available pitches that meet their criteria. They might play this sequence:
1=C3, 2=A0+F1, 3=D2, 4=G1+B1+G3+D4, 5=C2, etc..
In another realization, the player might decide to play chromatically (except for the leaving out of "D"s) & playing "A"s as often as possible & with the "A"s played louder than the other pitches. As such, in "Pi, Variation 2", this sequence might happen:
In performance, the player is encouraged to play the pieces in this obvious order: "Pi", Variations 1,2, 3; "e" Variations 1, 2, 3. This enables a larger structure to enfold. In recording, the player is asked to announce which piece is about to be played & which variation & is also asked to say who they are, & what the date is.
Since, as usual, my piano playing is underdeveloped, I particularly like that this is a simple piece to play that nonetheless generates harmonic & melodic patterns that strike my ear as non-cliché. It's possible that people who enjoy the music of Satie's Rosicrucian era &/or the piano music of Feldman & Mompou might also enjoy this.
A movie version of my playing of it is on my "onesownthoughts" YouTube channel here: http://youtu.be/ivEPvq0UAKw This shows fairly thoroughly the relationship between the score & its playing.
04 Pi (variation 2) (for 88 keys) - 2:52 - composed, recorded & performed: January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
See the notes for track 03.
05 Pi (variation 3) (for 88 keys) - 4:30 - composed, recorded & performed: January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
See the notes for track 03.
06 e (variation 1) (for 88 keys) - 1:09 - composed, recorded & performed: January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
See the notes for track 03.
07 e (variation 2) (for 88 keys) - 3:24 - composed, recorded & performed: January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
See the notes for track 03.
08 e (variation 3) (for 88 keys) - 5:15 - composed, recorded & performed: January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
See the notes for track 03.
09 Pi (variation 1) (for 88 keys) - 7:19 - composed January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed by J. Tracy Mortimore on prepared piano on June 17, 2013
See the notes for track 03. Most of my pieces have some simple textual or numerical component that wd help another person play them but usually these components are part of a much more complex performance scheme that wd be very difficult to replicate w/o my explicator presence. All of the electroacoustic pieces are even more difficult to duplicate b/c of the sounds that I create specifically for them - hence even if the technical structure isn't impossible to reproduce, the sounds used are well-nigh so - besides wch, there's not necessarily any 'good reason' for doing so.
SO, "Pi(ano Fort)e" is one of my only pieces that has a completely self-contained score that doesn't require my additional presence for explanation. That I didn't (d) compose it until I was 59 is probably telling. While I quite like my playing of it, I wanted to hear other people playing it to hear whether they'd explore other possibilities than I have &/or just for the pleasure of hearing them play it at all. W/ this in mind, I gave out the score to 6 or more pianist friends & asked them to play & record it.
On June 17, 2013, my friend & collaborator Michael Pestel & our mutual friend & collaborator the excellent bassist J. Tracy Mortimore both performed & recorded part of "Pi(ano Fort)e", in the 88 key version, on a piano prepared by Michael. I used the recordings of Tracy playing "Pi (variation 1)" & "Pi (variation 3)" & of Michael playing "e (variation 2)" here & the vaudeo of Tracy playing "Pi (variation 2)" & Michael playing "e (variation 3)" in the "Pi(ano Fort)e (the remake)" version also on my "onesownthoughts" YouTube channel here: http://youtu.be/HbY5bR5zxbo .
10 Pi (variation 2) (for 2 X 76 keys) - 4:34 - composed January & October 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed & recorded on March 10, 2014 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE.
See the notes for track 03. This duet version was created b/c I'd gotten a 76 key electronic keyboard a few mnths before that has some touch sensitivity - making it better for piano simulation than the 61 key electronic keyboard I usually use. I reconfigured the score to only take Pi to the 1st 76 places & to start where the lowest note of the electronic keyboard does & then printed out new versions sized correctly to fit over the 2 keyboards: the electronic one being a half inch less wide than the acoustic one. I recorded this version w/ my friend Ben Opie at the 31st "mm" ((m)usic(ician's) meeting) on October 6, 2013 & this version is shown in the online (remake) movie [NOT recorded at the 30th music(ian's) meeting (September 15, 2013) as the credits incorrectly claim]. Alternately, this version was recorded solely by me in 2 separate parts & then edited together. Instead of a piano sound on the electronic keyboard, I used an organ sound.
11 Pi (variation 3) (for 88 keys) - 6:09 - composed January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed by J. Tracy Mortimore on prepared piano on June 17, 2013
See the notes for tracks 03 & 09. The introductory voice is heard of the ever-humorous Michael Pestel.
12 e (variation 1) (for 88 keys) - 8:05 - composed January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed by Nina Sarnelle on October 27, 2013
See the notes for tracks 03 & 09. Nina's one of the most interesting performers in Pittsburgh & I've been wanting to collaborate w/ her so I invited her to try her her hand(s) at this. Both this version & a duet that she & I did together are quasi-documented in the afore-mentioned "Pi(ano Fort)e (the remake)" movie on my "onesownthoughts" YouTube channel here: http://youtu.be/HbY5bR5zxbo .
13 e (variation 2) (for 88 keys) - 6:45 - composed January 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed by Michael Pestel on prepared piano June 17, 2013
See the notes for tracks 03 & 09. Michael has been one of my main collaborators since early 1997. Alas, we haven't had as much of an opportunity as we'd like to work together in recent yrs b/c of pressing personal responsibilities & geographical distance. Sending him this score enabled us to work together again despite these barriers.
14 e (variation 3) (for 2 X 76 keys) - 4:54 - composed January & October 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed & recorded on March 10, 2014 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE.
See the notes for tracks 03 & 10. As w/ Pi (variation 2) (for 2 X 76 keys), I chose to play a sound other than a piano simulation on the electronic keyboard - in this case a type of melodramatic sound that I usually find almost insufferably 'cheesy' that I thought might 'work' here. I'm not sure I really think it does but at least it's different from what I might ordinarily do electronically.
15 Titin (for 2 X 76 keys) - 5:03 - composed July 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, performed & recorded on September 17, 2013 by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE.
As w/ track 10, I used an 88 key acoustic piano, w/ 12 of the keys masking-taped off, & a 76 key electronic keyboard to play both parts of this duet. Both parts are the same & both have leeway about their performance. "Titin" is a protein that in its full chemical name is 189,824 letters long. As such, it's the longest word (arguably) in the English language to date. I'd incorporated it into a bk of Alan Davies interviewing me that's published in an early (uncorrected) version online as part of "Otoliths 27" (October 29, 2012) ( http://the-otolith.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/alan-davies-tentatively-interview.html ).
In June 2013 I started working on a movie based around this word that I intended to use in a reading of the release of a hard-copy version of the bk to be published by someone other than Otoliths. This particular publisher turned out to be completely incompetent & dishonest & the bk didn't materialize. Despite this, I worked on the movie until it was finished in its 7:35:42 form in February 2014. The soundtrack from this complete version will hopefully comprise "Piano Illiterature Volume 7" here on the Internet Archive.
For this movie, I composed another keyboard-mapping score assigning the 23 component names of Titin to 23 of the keys & specifying rough instructions based on how often & where those components appear w/in the overall word. I made an 88 key score & a 61 key score for playing 2 duets that were used in parts 2 & 4 of the movie respectively. Then I made this "(2 X 76 key)" version that I recorded as the separate, much shorter, piece presented here.
- March 14, 2014 notes from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE